Recreating Shravanabelagola's Bahubali, the very title of this article throws many questions in the minds of people and of course it is very natural for any person originating from Karnataka, a Jain or an art lover. The very thought of Lord Bahubali ignites a different feeling as it is an idol carved out of a monolith without moving it from one place to other and adding to it is its beauty and the majestic divine look of Lord Bahubali. Having thought all this as a reader you would definitely be thinking is it really possible to recreate this marvelous mass of art.
Here they are, Sri Ashok Gudigar and his team of sculptors, at Dasappana Doddi in a small town called Bidadi near Bangalore who are into this. They are in the process of carving a Bahubali idol for the Digambar Jain Mumukshu Mandal of Sonagadh in Gujarat who are constructing a Jain temple at Sonagadh. Sonagadh is a small town in the Bhavanagar district near the holy city of Palitana in Gujarat.
How did all this Start
It all started probably in 2008 that the Digambar Jain Mumukshu Mandal of Sonagadh decided to construct a Jain temple in the town and further thought of installing an idol of Lord Bahubali as a part of the project such that it will be one of the best Bahubali sculptures in the world in the modern times that is similar to the one at Shravanabelagola. The idea of having a Bahubali idol might be easy but getting it done and finding a right sculptor is not very easy. Their next question was to decide on the sculptor. There came Sri Manubhaiji, an octogenarian who originates from Sonagadh, is a part of the Digambar Jain Mumukshu Mandal, Bangalore. He has been a part of the management committee of Sri Panchabalayathi Paramagama Jina Mandir, Rajajinagar, Bangalore. He being based out of Bangalore and having access to the kind of sculptors required to make this idol in Karnataka started looking out for one. In the process he came across the marvelous works of Ashok Gudigar in different parts of South India and approached him.
Making of Bahubali
Finding Ashok Gudigar was not the end of the project rather it was the beginning. While they started working towards this they had numerous questions in mind viz., the size of the idol, its transportation, the time required for doing it and finally the costs involved. To begin with they had closed on having an idol similar to the Bahubali idol at Shravnabelagola and their next question was its size.
Though Mr.Ashok was quite confident of making an idol as big as the one at Shravnabelagola their major concern was its transportation from Bangalore to Sonagad. On working with this and considering various factors they decided to have a 41 feet high idol with a pedestal of 4 feet which makes up to 45 feet and decided to proceed towards getting the stone required from Devanahalli. Devanahalli is a small village near Bangalore well known for stone quarrying. Though finding a suitable stone was not that difficult it was a real challenge to transport the stone (given its size 45 X 15 feet and volume - 400 tons) from Devanahalli to Ashok's place of work at Bidadi as it is located on a different side of Bangalore, at a distance of 70 Kms from Devanahalli. Ultimately they were successful in shifting the stone to Bidadi by end of April 2009.
Since April 2009 a team of 15 sculptors under the guidance of Sri Ashok Gudigar and his assistants Sri Manjunath Gudigar and Sri Sagar Gudigar have been working day and night and are expected to complete the work by end of February 2010 at Bangalore. They are expected to take three more months after shifting the idol to Sonagadh and plan to finish it finally by June 2010.
Creating an idol similar to the one at Shravanabelagola is easier said than done given the size of the idol and the efforts involved. To begin with, on the architectural part, the team spent close to 10 days at Shravanabelagola studying the Bahubali statue in terms of its anotomy, finer details with respect to its size and overall structure. After that they started working with this by having two flex printed human size huge banners with them. Since, then they have been involved in the making of the idol. Since beginning, the team has been very careful while carving the idol and are in no hurry to finish it as they are more focused in achieving perfection and have taken utmost care in deciding on the anotomy of the idol as it plays a major role in deciding the overall structure of the idol.